Saturday, April 30, 2016
It’s not looking good for the global fossil fuel industry. Although the world remains heavily dependent on oil, coal and natural gas—which today supply around 80 percent of our primary energy needs—the industry is rapidly crumbling.
This is not merely a temporary blip, but a symptom of a deeper, long-term process related to global capitalism’s escalating overconsumption of planetary resources and raw materials.
New scientific research shows that the growing crisis of profitability facing fossil fuel industries is part of an inevitable period of transition to a post-carbon era.
April 28: Peak Oil Review: A Midweek Update.
The woes of the US oil industry continue to grow with Exxon losing its AAA investment rating and numerous oil companies reporting sharply reduced profits or larger losses. The oil services industry which largely supports new drilling has been badly hit by capital spending by oil companies now some 50 percent of 2014 levels.
Over in Iraq, the political situation continues to deteriorate with Prime Minister al-Abadi unable to confirm a new cabinet amongst much turmoil. The situation in Iraqi Kurdistan is not much better with oil exports in 2016 lower than last year. The Kurds are negotiating to build an export pipeline through Iran thereby bypassing the never-ending conflict between the Kurds and the Turkish government. It is becoming apparent to the Kurds that dependence on the one oil export pipeline through Turkey will not be a solution to their troubles.
In Venezuela, the government announced that the public sector, which provides about 30 percent of the country’s jobs, will only work two days a week to save electricity. The situation in the country is becoming critical. The government will no longer announce the water level behind the dam, which could be only a week or so away from shutting down depriving the country of some 65-70 percent of its power production. Much of the future depends on when the rainy season begins, and how quickly it brings water levels up to operating levels. Some are saying that the thermal electric plants that used to provide about a third of the country’s power are breaking down for lack of maintenance leaving the Guri dam as the only source for much of the country’s electricity. It seems increasingly likely that the social fabric of the country could collapse soon endangering the country’s oil exports and eliminating much of the world’s oil surplus at one stroke.
Most of the people coming out had ice shaves, which I wasn't there for. A woman in line said school let out every other Friday at one-fifteen, so another said now she had to deal with the school crowds. There was a local kid with his hair dyed berry-red. As the line moved forward every time people left the shop, I looked up at the sky and at the bench with people's names carved in the wood.
Finally I got in, and looked at the jars of crack seed, most of which were empty. The first jars I saw held licorice olives. There was candied ginger too. No. I knew I'd get li hing mui or at least lemon. The shop was narrow and crowded, more so because of all the customers. I went to the end of the room and looked at the li hing mui, choosing a quarter-pound of baby seed. The lady scooped some out and weighed the bag, just over the amount I ordered. I paid and left, just after one-fifty. I don't know how long I was in line, maybe twenty or thirty minutes. But that was the last time I went to Kawate. The store closes permanently this afternoon.
Friday, April 29, 2016
me irl pic.twitter.com/JTiHolUgPf— me irl (@ItMeIRL) April 29, 2016
Armond White on film criticism today pic.twitter.com/dhsvouyW5r— Super TronVin '94 (@_TronVin_) April 28, 2016
This looks like a photo in the local paper announcing two used car dealership owners merging their lots. pic.twitter.com/o4VLrdYLGi— Eli Olsberg (@EliOlsberg) April 28, 2016
he forgot why pic.twitter.com/0S7DbSZbgt— Matt Bors (@MattBors) April 16, 2016
Eduardo Porter: Manufacturing is down, worldwide. The Mirage of a Return to Manufacturing Greatness https://t.co/NxDqM82cAS— Nell Painter (@PainterNell) April 27, 2016
The big news that broke last night: Peter Boy's parents charged in his death.
A glance at the headlines: I see a weasel has caused a shutdown of the Large Hadron Collider.
"Crazy hack" (Nancy Nall's term) Armond White on Prince here and here.
Prince and the other great pop musicians of the 1980s — Michael Jackson, The Smiths, Public Enemy, Pet Shop Boys, Scritti Politti, Kate Bush, the Au Pairs, sometimes Madonna — were part of the texture of Reagan and Thatcher realities. They responded to the policies of that era in ways that Prince mourners now ignore by trading the thought-provoking complexities of yesterday’s cultural arguments for the non-thinking conformity of today’s politically naïve pop culture. It’s as if personal politics (the only politics a pop artist can honestly proclaim) didn’t matter.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
It is interesting that small colleges like Sweet Briar, which almost closed down because of a lack of money, then rallied back, will be the most likely to succeed.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
CREW Method (weeding manual).
When Island Chevrolet closed in mid-2009 I took some photos of the empty car lot. It didn't stay like that for long, becoming a base for several food trucks, including the famous Gina's. Now WikiFresh is open in the building.
Meanwhile, Kawate Seed Shop will close its doors permanently on 30 April.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
I haven't followed politics deeply for a while now. But I found this analysis by Newt Gingrich on the presidential candidates.
@Politics1com is the Twitter to follow:
Carly Fiorina acknowledges she is being vetted as potential Ted Cruz VP runningmate: https://t.co/D8n1xryrEM— Politics1.com (@Politics1com) April 25, 2016
Ex-US Sen Harris Wofford (D-PA), 90, a widower, comes out as gay and is engaged to marry 40-year-old man - https://t.co/K85eHHkphv— Politics1.com (@Politics1com) April 23, 2016
How Chernobyl shook the USSR.
Chernobyl's Literary Legacy, 30 Years Later.
No literary response to Chernobyl deserves a wider readership than Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster. [Svetlana] Alexievich, the Belarusian journalist who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2015, represents the broadest range of a society whose alienation makes them “a separate people. A new nation.” In these pages, harrowing stories of lost loved ones sit alongside litanies against technological hubris; the history of ideas—“the era of physics ended at Chernobyl”—contrasts with spots of black humor; science collides with superstition. The cumulative effect is not the absorption of Chernobyl, but rather an unlimited expansion. More than any other work, Alexievich’s provides a direct, vertiginous glimpse of Chernobyl's abyss.
Monday, April 25, 2016
Kunstler: The Awful Lull.
Spring unfolds at last in all its loveliness and Hillary sits back in repose like the matriarch of toads with a clear path to her toadstool throne, having swallowed the mouse-king Sanders. (She forgets that there are millions more mice under the thatched grass, including new mouse-kings awaiting.) And Trump with his bullfrog smile now casts his baleful eye on the two remaining gnats circling his lily pad. Yes, this magical week when the world bursts into leaf and flower, the life of our nation seems like a fairy tale.
Weeks from now when we’re used to the mild air and the greened world, going coatless and care-free, is when the storms of summer strike and the life of the nation turns from fairy tale to horror comic. Both Clinton and Trump are perfect representatives of the nascent forces moving towards some kind of civil war in comic book America.
Clinton perfectly embodies the fortress of the status quo, including especially her praetorian guard of black ghetto grandmothers, giving Hillary the false appearance of some sort of righteousness when, really, she has nothing to offer the greater crisis of black manhood, boxed into prison by the ancient crippling rules of federal welfare policy with its extreme penalties on active fathering. Otherwise, the stone wall of her status quo fortress conceals her privy council of Wall Street necromancers, and the fortune they have helped her lay up in the vaults of the Clinton Foundation.
All of which is to say that Hillary represents the forces that want to keep things just as a they are: rackets rampant. What can crush her triumph of fakery is the sudden manifestation of rackets collapsing under their own weight — a set of awful probabilities waiting to happen, ranging from riots at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia to an accident in financial markets jerry-rigged to mis-price everything for the purpose of funneling carry-trade gains into East Hampton. Look how she croaks about the triumph of the Affordable Care Act, as though it’s a great thing that Americans can shell out $10,000 a year for medical coverage that only kicks in after you rack up the first $6,000 in charges. (Forgetting for a moment that the costs are an hallucination of the “ChargeMaster” system designed to lavish six-figure salaries plus bonuses on the maestros in the hospital executive suites.) What a demonic fraud this woman is.
In terms of sheer persona on persona, Trump is not much better, a walking hood ornament on the faltering beater car that America has become. But at least he recognizes that the beater beneath him needs a complete overhaul, even if he can barely cobble up a coherent list of particulars, or name the mechanics who might be able to fix the damn thing. And, of course, a broad swathe of Americans whose lives have also come to resemble beater cars are very sympathetic to the impulses Trump radiates.
For example, I happen to agree that the nation needs to act on immigration, both on the problem of illegal immigrants and on limiting the quotas of legally admitted newcomers. The Left, sunk in its sentimental sob stories of “dreamers,” and its nostalgia for the Ellis Island romance of 1904, can’t conceive of any reason why the nation might benefit from, at least, a time-out on invitations. The idea undermines their world-saving fantasies. In my little corner of America, the computer chip factory run by Global Foundries (owned by the Emirate of Dubai) has just laid off the majority of its homegrown American technical labor force and replaced them with foreign technicians on H1B visas, thus creating x-number of new Trump voters among the laid-off, and rightfully so, I think.
Really, who says we have to invite every striver from other parts of the world where striving is more difficult? Let them improve the strive-osity of their own nations. Do the citizens already here not have any right to halt the influx and take stock of the nation’s circumstances for a period of time? If only Trump could speak clearly about these issues instead of simply issuing crude and rather dumb threats.
Enjoy this end-of-April lull in the action. Use the moment to gird your loins and perhaps get the hell out of the financial markets while the getting is good. I think you will see things liven up a lot as the heat rises and the seventeen-year locusts emerge from their long sleep underground in frightening storms.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Seder conversation. Adult: "What bands do you listen to?" Fourteen year-old. "I don't listen to 'bands.' I listen to producers."— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) April 23, 2016
Categories aside, 4 of the first 5 Pulitzer Prize winners, announced today, are really investigative reporting. https://t.co/2eugKhSoPN— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) April 18, 2016
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Friday, April 22, 2016
Never forget that after Dave Chappelle did his famous Prince sketch, PRINCE PUT HIM ON HIS ACTUAL SINGLE COVER. pic.twitter.com/yxbevRpLrm— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) April 21, 2016
Named after the Prince Roger Trio, a jazz band his father performed with, Prince was signed to WB Records as a teenager. #RIPurple— The Crisis Magazine (@thecrisismag) April 22, 2016
What could have been.
Madonna's manager Guy Oseary recalls:
I called him a few years back with the idea of @Madonna and Prince going on tour together. I pitched it to Madonna and within a second she said "I like it, we can call it the Royalty Tour... The Queen and The Prince".... I love the way she thinks... When I told Prince the idea he said: "the world isn't ready for this, it's too big".. I always felt like one day I would pull it off..
Michael Jackson didn't like Prince.
Mark Ames swipes at his former colleague Matt Taibbi:
Seriously, if the gonzo gig dries up there's a big future in Hallmark cards. Fucking hell pic.twitter.com/A9xSw39l40— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) April 23, 2016
And Nancy Nall gnashes her teeth (again) at Mitch Albom for his column on Prince.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
As a registered democrat in NY with a land line, this week has been hell. Caller ID is saving me. I'm not answering till after Tuesday.— Margaret Kimberley (@freedomrideblog) April 15, 2016
Monday, April 18, 2016
Kunstler: The Elephant Cometh.
The elephant’s not even in the room, which is why the 2016 election campaign is such a soap opera. The elephant outside the room is named Discontinuity. That’s perhaps an intimidating word, but it is exactly what the USA is in for. It means that a lot of familiar things come to an end, stop, don’t work the way they are supposed to — beginning, manifestly, with the election process now underway in all its unprecedented bizarreness.
One reason it’s difficult to comprehend discontinuity is because so many operations and institutions of daily life in America have insidiously become rackets, meaning that they are kept going only by dishonest means. If we didn’t lie to ourselves about them, they couldn’t continue.
For instance the automobile racket. Without a solid, solvent middle-class, you can’t sell cars. Americans are used to paying for cars on installment loans. If the middle class is so crippled by prior debt and the disappearance of good-paying jobs that they can’t qualify for car loans, well, the answer is to give them loans anyway, on terms that don’t really pencil out — such as 7-year loans at 0 percent interest for used cars (that will be worth next to nothing long before the loan expires).
This will go on until it can’t, which is what discontinuity is all about. The car companies and the banks (with help from government regulators and political cheerleaders) have created this work-around by treating “sub-prime” car loans the same way they treated sub-prime mortgages: they bundle them into larger packages of bonds called collateralized loan obligations. These, in turn, are sold mainly to big pension fund and insurance companies desperate for “yield” (higher interest) on “safe” investments that ostensibly preserve their principal. The “collateral” amounts to the revenue streams of payments that are sure to stop because the payers are by definition not credit-worthy, meaning it was baked in the cake that they would quit making payments — especially when they go “under water” owing ever more money for junkers that have lost all value.
It’s easy to see how that ends in tears for all concerned parties, but we “buy into it” because there seems to be no other way to a) boost the so-called “consumer” economy and b) keep the matrix of car-dependant suburban sprawl in operation. We took what used to be a fairly sound idea during a now-bygone phase of history, and perverted it to avoid making any difficult but necessary changes in a new phase of history.
Health care is now such a blatant, odious, and ruinous racket that it is a little hard to believe that it hasn’t ignited an outright revolution or, at least, a workplace massacre in some insurance company C-suite. It is a well-known fact that most Americans don’t even have $500 to pay for a car repair. How are they supposed to cope with a $5,000 deductible health insurance incident? Answer: they can’t. Their mental health is destroyed in the process of attempting to fix their physical health. Not uncommonly, they have to declare bankruptcy after a routine appendectomy or a visit to the emergency room to set a broken arm. Sometimes, they don’t even bother to go to the doctor, seeing clearly how this plays out. The pharmaceutical industry has, of course, been allowed to convert itself into a simple extortion racket. Got an unusual kind of cancer? We have something that might help. Oh, it costs $43,000 a month….
What kind of a polity allows this cruel and indecent grift to go on? Why, the Obama administration, which allowed the health insurance company lobbyists and their colleagues in Big Pharma to “craft” the Affordable Care Act — the name of which must be the biggest public lie ever floated.
It’s interesting to see how a parallel fraud is playing out in higher ed. I submit the reason that college presidents are not pushing back against the Maoist coercions of the undergraduate social justice warriors is because the marvelous theater of the gender, race, and “privilege” melodrama is a potent distraction from the sad fact that college has turned into a grotesquely top-heavy and high-paying administrative racket offering boutique courses in fake fields (Dartmouth College: WGSS 65.06 Radical Sexuality: Of Color, Wildness, and Fabulosity… Harvard University: WOMGEN 1424: American Fetish) in order to pander to their young customers (students) conditioned to tragic “oppression” sob stories. All in the service of paying huge salaries + perqs to the dynamic executives running these places.
Then there is banking, a.k.a. the financial system, certainly the greatest racket of rackets, since the fumes it’s running on — combinations of ZIRP, QE, and “forward guidance” (happy talk) — is all that there is to maintain the illusion that “money” remains a reliable gauge of value. Finance is the racket that will go down first and hardest, and when it does, all the other rackets currently running will go up in a vapor. That elephant will storm into the room before the political conventions, and when it does, it will usher in the recognition that nothing can go on as before.
Saturday, April 16, 2016
This poll was mentioned in today's paper as well:
"When it comes to rudeness in 2016 politics, the Republican presidential contest wins in a landslide."
Check out ElectionGuide.org, where you can read about elections all over the world. As I've noted earlier, Maureen Kyalya was running for President of Uganda. Museveni, Ugandan President since 1986, won in a landslide. He dismissed claims the election was rigged.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
The Guardian: "The conservative crack-up: managing a disintegrating political message."
#NeverTrump is built on the assumption that huge numbers of Republican voters care about conservatism. They don't. They never did.— George Hawley (@georgehawleyUA) March 24, 2016
George Hawley's book, Right-Wing Critics of American Conservatism.
Trump-inspired infighting among Hollywood Republicans.
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Normally I don't mock people for this because not everyone went to an elite private high school and Harvard. He did pic.twitter.com/zRShKVicEA— Noah McCormack (@noahmccormack) March 13, 2016
.@noahmccormack Our elites are becoming ever more philistine. E.g., Sandberg in NYT By the Book naming only kiddie & biz books as her faves— Kathleen Geier (@Kathy__Gee) March 13, 2016
This article is what Geier is referring to. Actually, Sheryl Sandberg didn't name "only kiddie" and "biz books" as her favorites. She mentions Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution, and some American poetry books as well. And the "kiddie" and "biz" books are by some fine writers: Madeleine L'Engle, Michael Lewis, et al.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Fan mail! https://t.co/GzeSiguSPY— Doug Henwood (@DougHenwood) April 12, 2016
He’s coy. Says nice things about HRC but then says he’s not a supporter. https://t.co/xqgpL4BtWx— Doug Henwood (@DougHenwood) April 12, 2016
We'll see, smart guy. https://t.co/aEJPGvmEQ1— Doug Henwood (@DougHenwood) April 12, 2016
Yes. I said I'd never argue with someone who votes for the Horror. Can't do it myself though. https://t.co/Hg8KCMLgHP— Doug Henwood (@DougHenwood) April 11, 2016
Monday, April 11, 2016
The mystery is at last revealed: why does the field of candidates for president score so uniformly low in trust, credibility, likability? Why are there no candidates of real substance, principle, and especially of real charm in this scrim of political basilisks? (Surely there are many people of substance and principle elsewhere in America — they just don’t dare seek the job at the symbolic tippy-top of this clusterfuck of faltering rackets.) [There is at least one candidate of substance and principle--Jill Stein--but she's outside the Demopublican-Republicrat duopoly.--P.Z.] The reason is that the problems are unfixable, at least not within the acceptable terms of the zeitgeist, namely: the secret wish to keep all the rackets going at all costs.
This is true, by the way, of all parties concerned from the 0.001 percent billionaire grifter class to the deluded sophomores crying for “safe spaces” in their womb-like “student life centers” to the sports-and-porn addled suburban multitudes stuck with impossible mortgage, car, and college loan debts (and, suddenly, no paying job) to the deluded Black Lives Matter mobs who have failed to notice that black lives matter least to the black people slaughtering each other over sneakers and personal slights. None of these groups really want to change anything. They actually wish to preserve their prerogatives.
The interests of the 0.001 percent are obvious: maintain those streams of unearned, rentier, notional wealth as long as possible and convert them as fast as possible into hard assets (Caribbean islands, Cézanne landscapes, gold bars) that will theoretically insulate them from the wrath of history when the center no longer holds. The poor (and ever-poorer) formerly middle class suburban debt serfs, for all their travails, can’t imagine living any other way or putting less of their dwindling capital into the Happy Motoring matrix. The Maoist Social Justice Warrior students are enjoying the surprising power and thrills of coercion, especially as directed against their simpering professors and cringing college presidents anxious to sustain the illusion that something like learning takes place in the money laundering operations of higher ed. The Black Lives Matter crowd just wants to be excused from their failure to follow standards of decent behavior and to keep mau-mauing the other ethnic groups of America for material and political tribute.
It must be obvious that the next occupant of the White House will preside over the implosion of all these arrangements since, in the immortal words of economist Herb Stein, if something can’t go on forever, it will stop. So the only individuals left seeking the position are 1) An inarticulate reality TV buffoon; 2) a war-happy evangelical maniac; 3) a narcissistic monster of entitlement whose “turn” it is to hold the country’s highest office; and 4) a valiant but quixotic self-proclaimed socialist altacocker who might have walked off the set of Welcome Back Kotter, 40th Reunion Special. These are the ones left standing halfway to the conventions. Nobody else in his, her, it, xe, or they right mind wants to be handed this schwag-bag of doom.
On Saturday, the unstoppable Democratic shoo-in Hillary lost her 7th straight contest to the only theoretically electable Vermont Don Quixote, Bernie Sanders. This was a week after it was reported in The Huff-Po that her campaign crew literally bought-and-paid for the entire 50-state smorgasbord of super-delegates who will supposedly compensate for Hillary’s inability to otherwise win votes the old-fashioned way, by ballots cast. Wonder why that didn’t make nary a ripple in the media afterward? Because this is the land where anything goes and nothing matters, and that’s really all you need to know about how things work in the USA these days.
The Republican mandarins are apparently delirious over loose cannon Donald Trump’s flagging poll numbers in the remaining primary states. Should Trump fall on his face, do you think they’ll just hand Ted Cruz the Ronald Reagan Crown-and-Scepter set. (They’d rather lock Ted in the back of a Chevy cargo van with five Mexican narcos and a chain saw.) The GOP establishment insiders are already lighting cigars in preparation for the biggest smoke-filled room in US political history, Cleveland, July 20. But what poor shmo will they have to drag to the podium to get this odious thing done? Who wants to be the guy in the Oval Office when Janet Yellen comes in some muggy DC morning and says, “Uh, sir (ma’am)… that sucker you heard was gonna go down…? Well, uh, it just did.”
As for the Dems: they are about to anoint the most unpopular candidate of our lifetimes. The BLM mobs have promised to deliver mayhem to the streets of the party conventions and don’t think they will spare Hillary in Philary, no matter how many chitlins she scarfed down last month in Carolina. The action in Philly will unleash and reveal all the deadly power of President Obama’s NSA goon squads when the militarized police put down the riots, and Hillary will be tagged guilty by association.
And that is how Kim Kardashian gets elected president.
Saturday, April 09, 2016
"Hunger, power cuts in Zimbabwe, Zambia as lake hits record low."
"Clinton laughs off activist's fracking fundraising request."
"Unable To Compete On Price, Nuclear Power On The Decline In The U.S."
"Obama Gives New Boost to Nuclear Energy."
Friday, April 08, 2016
Thursday, April 07, 2016
Wednesday, April 06, 2016
"53 Historians Weigh In on Barack Obama’s Legacy."
Reading to children: Obamas: 1 - Cameron: 0 pic.twitter.com/EvhLtEjJTT— Zoë Brown (@ZBrownie) April 1, 2016
Late in 2014, I pointed out that the University of Alabama at Birmingham ended its football program. Its comeback is planned for 2017.
Wikipedia's list of defunct college football teams.
The Paul Quinn farm is still around.
Tuesday, April 05, 2016
Monday, April 04, 2016
Sunday, April 03, 2016
Saturday, April 02, 2016
"The wilful ignorance of a new generation of 'Liberals' shields the Congress from its culpability in the 1984 massacres" by Hartosh Singh Bal, Caravan Magazine, 2 April 2016.
This is the website of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
A few reviews of Jane Mayer's book Dark Money:
Garfield is running for president too: